Revolution #213, September 27, 2010

Going to Mexican Independence Day Parade with the Message and Call

Some of us went out to the Mexican Independence Day Parade, which in our city usually draws over 5,000 people, and this year with the 200th Anniversary of Mexican (and all the Central American countries) independence from Spain, it may have been a bit larger. People came from all over the metropolitan area. And we anticipated an electric atmosphere, what with Arizona and what has just happened in Pico Union/LA.

In the week leading up to the parade, some of us had talked about the importance of fundraising for the success of the Revolution We Need/Leadership We Have campaign, particularly for paying for the printing of many tens of thousands of the beautiful new version of the full Message and Call. At the parade we fought to really make a breakthrough in calling for people to donate as we are distributing in massive numbers this powerful broadsheet. We aimed to not only raise the money to cover the cost of what we distributed, but to exceed that to contribute to the effort overall – and indeed we met and exceeded that goal.

1,850 copies in Spanish and 80 copies in English were distributed, and $221 was raised, mainly in donations of a $1, with one $10 and several $5 contributions—all in a little more than 3 hours.

This experience strongly reflects a deep desire for a revolution of some kind among this section of people and a real openness to learning about THIS revolution.

The question before us was how to really speak to and draw on that. And initially we weren’t on the way to making the breakthrough we wanted to make and had the basis to make. Boldly and effectively calling on people to donate in this way was quite new to most of our crew, but we developed a real collective spirit among us where we quickly summed up what we were running up against and advanced experience was identified and others then took it up.

A basic starting point was really looking people in the eye and calling on them to donate, and then give them a chance to respond before moving on—in other words really asking people to donate and not simply "going through the motions" of asking them.

But we were in very crowded and "rushed" scene—and we needed to project what this is all about and why they should donate in a few words. Some we encountered were shocked and intrigued that we are about Revolution in THIS country and we spoke to that. Many made the assumption of one woman who asked, "Revolution for immigrants?" and so we quickly learned to project that this communist revolution is for everyone, all over the world.

One person when called on to donate, asked back in Spanish, "Is this for the revolution, or the revolutionaries?" and when it was made clear that it was for the revolution, he pulled out his donation. One in our crew developed a brief way of speaking to that in a powerful and positive way: we are distributing one million of these broadsheets coast-to-coast as part of building a Movement for Revolution, and this was adopted by others and such questions no longer came up.

In many places, the crowd was very dense and you couldn’t walk through it, so a new way of distributing was developed that turned this "problem" into its opposite—we would call out the title of the statement and hold it up and when people reached out for it we called on them to pass back copies into the crowd, and perhaps 1/3 of what we got out by people from then on came from people taking small numbers and passing them back to people behind them. With this, our division of labor shifted even more, with half focusing on collecting donations in big buckets from those who had now just received the statement. Many gave and in several cases people we had missed came back following us to make their contribution.

Indeed, where before there was a certain trepidation about calling on people to donate, now the whole process became somewhat of a fun, joyous occasion, with one of our most effective collectors of donations laughing and joking with people as he called for them to donate. At several points after strongly speaking to a crowd, calling for them to donate and why, he joked and said "donate as much as you can, but please no more than $100," with people then laughing with him and pulling out their dollar bills and putting them in his can.

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